I must admit, I’m a huge fan of Ivan Peplnjak. This despite the fact that he is a major thorn in the side of product management at Cisco. It is, of course, his job to be a thorn in our side and Ivan is too smart to ignore. He has a long history with Cisco, with networking, and his opinions are well thought out and highly technical. He is a true network engineer. The fact that I like Ivan does not mean he gave me an easy time a few years back when I did a podcast with him on NETCONF at Cisco Live Berlin.
Ivan had an interesting post recently entitled “Keep Blogging, Some of Us Still Read“. It reminds of my own tongue-in-cheek FAQ for this blog, in which I said I wouldn’t use a lot of graphics because I intended my blog for “people who can read”. As a blogger, I think I quite literally have about 3 regular readers, which occasionally makes me wonder why I do it at all. I could probably build a bigger readership if I worked at it, but I really don’t work at it. I think part of the reason I do it is simply that I find it therapeutic.
Anyhow, the main claim Ivan is responding to is that video seems to be dominant these days and blogging is becoming less rewarding. There is no question video creation has risen dramatically, and in many ways it’s easier to get noticed on YouTube than on some random blog like mine. Then again, with the popularity of SubStack I think people are actually still reading.
Ivan says “Smart people READ technical content.” Well, perhaps. I remember learning MPLS back in 2006 when I worked at TAC. I took a week off to run through a video series someone had produced and it was one of the best courses I’ve taken. Sometimes a technical person doesn’t want to learn by reading content. Sometimes listening to new concepts explained well at a conversational pace and in a conversational style is more conducive to actually understanding the material. This is why people go to trade shows like Cisco Live. They want to hear it.
I’ve spent a lot of time on video lately, developing a series on technical public speaking as well as technical videos for Cisco. In the process I’ve had to learn Final Cut Pro and DaVinci resolve. Both have, frankly, horrendous user interfaces that are hard to master. Nine times out of ten I turn to a YouTube video when I’m stuck trying to do something. Especially with GUI-based tools, video is much faster for me to learn something than screen shots.
On the other hand, it’s much harder to produce video. I can make a blog post in 15 minutes. YouTube videos take hours and hours to produce, even simple ones like my Coffee with TMEs series.
The bottom line is I’m somewhere down the middle here. Ivan’s right, technical documentation in video format is much harder to search and to use for reference. That said, I think video is often much better for learning, that is for being guided through an unfamiliar concept or technology.
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